The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has published the Marine Occurrence Investigation report for the grounding of the bulk carrier Orient Centaur in Queensland.
Summary of events
On 6 November 2017, the fully laden, mini cape-size dry bulk carrier Orient Centaur was transiting the South Channel, Weipa, Queensland, outbound under the conduct of harbor pilots as part of a trial introduction of this size of ship to the port. While in the South Channel, the ship’s main engine shut down due to a loss of water from a cracked engine cooling component, and propulsion was lost. Shortly after, the ship grounded on the northern batter of the channel.
The stern then slowly swung across the channel and grounded on the southern batter.
Under the guidance of the harbor pilots, three tugs were used to successfully refloat the ship.
The ship was subsequently towed out of the channel to an anchorage. Surveys conducted over the following days identified that the ship did not sustain any damage.
Findings from the investigation
The ATSB found that the approval process for this size of the ship had only considered the risks associated with the main engine failure before the departing ship’s entry into the narrow South Channel.
The port risk assessment did not require the use of an escort tug for any ships transiting the South Channel during outbound voyages, and the tug masters had not been trained in the specifics of escort towage nor in emergency response.
Actions are taken
- The ship’s managers advised there is now weekly onboard testing of cooling water and every 6 months at a shore laboratory. Also, only the manufacturers’ original spares are to be used during maintenance.
- In addition to the trial conditions, an escort tug is now used for all departing bulk carriers.
- All departing ships over 200 m now have an escort tug made fast, from the wharf to the South Channel exit.
- Two continuously manned, 85-tonne bollard pulls azimuth stern drive tugs are now based at the Port of Amrun, about 60 minutes steaming time from the Port of Weipa.
- All pilots and tug masters have completed emergency response and escort towage training at the Smartship simulator.
- The training included emergency towage scenarios, positioning and use of tugs in an emergency, competency in standard escort tug maneuvers and indirect towage.
- Arrival and departure briefs developed for the Port of Weipa have been updated with safety settings for the electronic chart display and information system, tidal information, weather conditions, wind limits and tug positions/line lengths.
- All masters and ship bridge teams are briefed before arrival and departure
The safety message and highlights from the investigation report will be analyzed in detail in the next series.
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